Mario Villalobos

Burgeoning Rewards

One thing I love about writing this blog is the fact that the seeds to today were planted days ago. As a writer, especially a very introspective and personal writer, I try not to let anything go. If I’m feeling tired and burnt out, I have to investigate why, and this blog has been a great medium for me to do that. I don’t know if I would be where I am today if it weren’t for my blog. It’s given me the opportunity to examine myself as openly and as honestly as possible, and that self-interrogation has helped me grow faster and more fully than I would’ve otherwise. Even when I don’t want to write — especially when I don’t want to write — I sit down and do it anyway because it’s the only way I know how to think.

I’ve been too focused on working during this six month journey that I’ve neglected to reward myself. In the Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg describes something he called the Habit Loop. In short, the habit loop consists of a cue, a routine, and a reward. For a while, I treated my progress and growth as a person, a writer, and an athlete as my reward. In a sense, they are very rewarding, but that reward is so gradual and subtle that I could go days without feeling the beneficial effects of all my hard work. What I needed was a more direct reward: a new toy to play with, a night out with friends, or a tasty dinner at a restaurant. Without these hard-earned and tangible bonuses, I would become more irritable, tired, and burnt out. Fortunately, I made the conscious decision to let myself have fun today, and I’m very glad I did.

I felt rejuvenated today because I let myself have fun and heal. Part of my healing process was going to Starbucks and buying myself a coffee and a muffin. The muffin was delicious and really hit the spot. I ate it much too quickly, though, but it made me smile and that smile hasn’t left my face since. It’s funny because, on the face of it, today doesn’t look that different than any other day. I did all my work, and I checked off all my tasks in OmniFocus, and yet, I feel like I let myself relax and have fun today. I played video games, watched music videos on YouTube, and bought the new Modest Mouse album on iTunes. These activities, although tame and simple, gave me the necessary break from the go-go-go lifestyle I’m used to living, and in the end, that’s all I needed to feel good.

I don’t know what the future holds for me. I don’t know if today is a sign of things to come or a blip on my timeline. All I know for sure is that I have a smile on my face, and I feel good. I’ve written it all down for me to read later and remember that all I have to do whenever I’m feeling tired or burnt out is to relax, have fun, and reward myself with something nice. Because in the end, life is too short not to have some fun.